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See also: Sparrow


A male sparrow (Passer domesticus)
A female sparrow (Passer domesticus)



From Middle English sparwe, sparowe, from Old English spearwa, from Proto-West Germanic *sparwō, from Proto-Germanic *sparwô, from Proto-Indo-European *spḗr (sparrow).

Cognate with Dutch spreeuw (starling), Alemannic German Spar (sparrow), German Sperling (sparrow), Danish and Norwegian Bokmål spurv (sparrow), Norwegian Nynorsk sporv (sparrow), Swedish sparv (sparrow), Breton frao (crow), Tocharian A spārāñ, Ancient Greek ψάρ (psár, starling).





sparrow (plural sparrows)

  1. The house sparrow, Passer domesticus; a small bird with a short bill, and brown, white and gray feathers.
    Synonyms: spadger, (Australia) spoggy, spuggy
    • 1920, Edward Carpenter, Pagan and Christian Creeds, New York: Harcourt, Brace and Co., published 1921, page 192:
      Man progresses generally, not both legs at once like a sparrow, but by putting one leg forward first, and then the other.
  2. A member of the family Passeridae, comprising small Old World songbirds.
  3. A member of the family Emberizidae, comprising small New World songbirds.
  4. Generically, any small, nondescript bird.
  5. (UK, chiefly London) A quick-witted, lively person.
    cockney sparrow
    • 1878, Charles Henry Ross, Ally Sloper's guide to the Paris exhibition, page 54:
      I take it there 's scarcely a happier fellow alive than your honest town-bred smoke-dried cockney sparrow.
    • 2005, Drama Faces: Martine McCutcheon[1], BBC:
      Professional cockney sparrow Martine has acted since childhood.



Derived terms



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Further reading